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The Pack Leader (Is a Fox)

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Everything was wrong.

Steve had expected parades, parties, and social gatherings when he and the team arrived back to the US on presidential pardons. The president himself, pardoning them. Instead he got riots, vicious social media posts, and in rare bouts of good fortune, ignorance. It was like they didn’t matter anymore, and he couldn’t help but admit it stung his lion’s pride a bit. 

He was excited to see Tony again, his alpha side raring to put the stubborn omega in his place. If the fox had just listened when Steve tried to reason, they wouldn’t even be in this mess. But no, Steve was now the bad guy, Tony having released the tapes of what happened to his parents and in Siberia and stole all the sympathy for himself by playing the victim.

Sure, Steve wished things could have gone differently, but what was done was done, and there was no reason for his petty omega to continue on like this.

He is disappointed when he steps off of King T’Challa’s quinjet at the Compound and finds no one he recognizes in sight. He decides that even though Tony should be here to greet them himself, he won’t be anything but polite to these people who don’t deserve his anger. 

Stepping forward, Steve sniffs the air to see what he is working with. The three in front of him are all betas, but they have the slight hint of Tony and some foreign pack leader tinging the edges. Likely part of the same pack then. Heaven knows, Steve’s team all smells like him, even Bucky, who is also an alpha.

“Good afternoon, I am Hope van Dyne,” says a stern looking lady with straight black hair and a stiff pencil skirt. Steve vaguely recognizes the name from when Scott explained why he was turning himself in for house arrest. He wondered briefly how he was doing.

Steve shakes himself. “Steve Rogers.”

The lady-Hope- raises an eyebrow. “We are perfectly aware of who you are, Mr. Rogers.”

A blonde to Hope’s left snorts quietly and, apparently unable to help herself, mutters, “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood.” It was so soft that had Steve not had enhanced hearing he wouldn’t have caught it.

The other woman on Hope’s right chuckles gently in response, shoulders shaking under her dark leather jacket.

Hope takes a deep breath and closes her eyes. “Really?” She asks turning around. “We are not starting this again right now.” The two look at her, perfect pictures of innocence, and she returns her attention to Steve. “The two behind me are Jessica Jones and Colonel Carol Danvers. We are here to oversee your resettlement into the Avengers Compound.”

“Where’s Stark?” Clint demands from the back of their little group. “Shouldn’t he be here, groveling for his sins or something?” The Hawk-shifter scoffs.

“Dr. Stark is a bit...preoccupied at the moment,” Jones replies with a smirk after a moment’s hesitation. “I’m sure if you wish to see him, you can make an appointment.”

“This is Stark’s fault, he should be here to fix it,” Wanda prompts, stepping forward. Steve’s not all that scared of her shifted state, a Balinese cat, but something about her magic just makes him uneasy. She’s surprisingly aggressive for a beta.

“Once again, Dr. Stark is busy. I’m sure you can make an appointment,” Jones repeats with a little more force than necessary. “Now, before we begin, any questions?”  

Sam raises his hand cautiously. “Um, if you don’t mind me asking, what are your animal forms?” Steve almost slaps himself for the oversight. Here he was, trying to get a read on these people, when he could’ve just asked them about their shifts. True, it wasn’t always an accurate portrayal of someone’s character, but it was better than none.

“Oh, that’s no problem,” Hope says with a wave and jots something down on her little clipboard. “I am an otter.”

“Black Mastiff,” is all Jones says.

“I’m a Sheltie,” Danvers offers, and she and Jones fist bump. 

Hope clears her throat threateningly at the two. “I’m pretty sure we have yours right, but just to double check, the Widow is a mink, and Wilson’s a red-footed falcon.”

“Sounds about right,” Steve says. 

“Alright. Nothing much has changed, stay out of the West Wing until reparations are completed and your rooms should be as you left them. Follow your contracts, don’t break the rules, and everything will be fine.” Hope’s eyes land on each of them in turn. “Any questions, come to me. Any concerns can go to Colonel Danvers, she’s team leader out on the field.”

Steve’s entire team, himself included, ignore that last part. They had been outraged over it when they first saw is in the Accords, but in no time Steve would be able to prove himself a better leader than the beta. Alphas should always be in charge, after all.

The three woman spun around and strode back to the Compound, Danvers chatting with Hope, and Jones throwing in a small comment or two here and there.

“I guess let’s go inside,” Steve says as he shoulders his and Wanda’s bags. “C’mon guys, we’re finally home!”

 

After getting settled in, Steve and part of his pack wander into the kitchen to get lunch. Sam and Clint choose to hang out in their rooms a little longer, the former seeming a bit hesitant around Steve and the latter giving off a troubled air. Steve supposes that Clint is worried about seeing Laura and the kids again after she tried to divorce him; most likely on Tony’s orders. 

Steve shakes his head. The omega probably wants her all to himself. Steve can’t wait to remind him where he stands in the scheme of things.

The team is surprised to notice a few pups lounging around in the common room, watching what Steve recognizes as the newest Mission: Impossible. There are four teens and two kids, one of whom can’t be more than two. Three of them have a similar scent to Clint, and Steve realizes they are probably his kids. They all have the overwhelming smell of this new alpha as well, he notices, alongside Tony’s omega signature. 

Realizing no one has moved, nor have they payed any attention to his pack if they have even seen them, Steve clears his throat. The kids ignore him, except one who turns around and blinks at them. He has curly brown hair and huge eyes, reminding Steve of a bedraggled kitten. Then the boy returns his gaze to the TV screen, where a helicopter is trying to take down another helicopter.

He gives up, a little more than frustrated at their lack of manners. He can’t really blame them, though, as most of them are betas of another pack, the oldest girl an alpha. The one who turned around, however, he is an omega, and it infuriates Steve that Tony wouldn’t teach this boy about respect, especially to Tony’s own alpha. 

In order to take his mind off his anger, Steve begins to help Natasha prepare the sandwiches, keeping a close eye on Wanda at the table and Bucky edging towards the far corner of the room, away from the kitchen and into the living area.

He doesn’t miss it when the omega perks up, and wouldn’t be shocked if it is his angry alpha scent that’s causing it. But the omega doesn’t even heed him a glance. His gaze falls directly on Bucky, and he leaps over the back of the couch in such as way that if he wasn’t a feline shifter it would be a miracle. He bounds towards the alpha excited, bouncing up and down like one several years younger would. 

“Hi Mr. Barnes! Da-Tony told us you’d be here today! How are you feeling? Is the arm working well? Do you want to come watch Mission: Impossible with us? It’s actually really good, and this version of the theme is my favorite! There was a car wreck, and a fight in the bathroom of a club, and a helicopter chase-“

Steve begins to lose track of the conversation as the kid is talking way too fast. Bucky, somehow able to keep up, smiles at the kid like he is used to his antics. Steve takes it upon himself to free the poor wolf shifter from the full onslaught of words by the pup. 

“What’s going on here?” He asks, allowing a little bit of alpha to leak into his voice. The omega is immediately cowed, but for some reason Buck scowls at him. 

“None of your business, Stevie,” he growls back. Steve doesn’t trust his judgement though, especially so soon after therapy, so he turns to the boy. 

“How do you know Bucky?”

The kid puffs up a little in pride, but deflates when Steve releases a small growl of his own. 

“I helped work on the arm,” he mumbles, rubbing his bicep nervously. “With princess Shuri. I met Mr. Barnes when I went to Wakanda to help with the installation.”

Steve turns to his best friend. “Why didn’t you tell me any of this?”

Bucky straightens up a bit more, and it annoys Steve that this is the most response he has gotten from him since he was defrosted. “I didn’t realize it was any of your business,” he snaps. “The princess told you she was bringing in a team of specialists. Does it matter if we now happen to be living under the same roof?”

“She never told me a child was helping her,” Steve implores, bristling a bit at this new alpha attitude coming from Bucky.

“Don’t try to bullshit me Steve,” the wolf-shifter says, and Steve flinches at the echo of what Tony said to him in Siberia. “Shuri herself is a child. You’re just mad that Peter’s an omega, never mind another alpha’s pup that smells like Tony.”

“I smell like d-Tony?” Peter asks, causing Steve to glare at him and the boy bows his head submissively and whines. Bucky appears to be about to step in, when the alpha girl from earlier slides in between Steve and Peter. She snarls at him, half shifted into what appears to be a snow leopard. Her ears are laying flat against her head, tail twitching aggressively and hands curled with claws.

“Leave him alone,” she spits.

Steve puffs up, also shifting halfway, and Bucky follows. The three alphas stare at each other in a stalemate, neither risking a move. Steve sees the beta kids begin to rush forward out of the corner of his eye. They stop a few feet away, as if trying to back up their sister, but not really knowing how.

“Harley,” the girl says into the silence without breaking eye contact with Steve. “Get Peter.”

“Kamala-” Harley replies, but she cuts him off.

“Get Peter. Cooper, take Lila and Nathaniel, and all of you go to my room. Lock the door, Friday’s already called Dads.”

The other kids all take on their animals within a split second, Harley the young black bear picking up the rusty-spotted cat that replaced Peter by the scruff of his neck. Cooper, a German Shepherd, nudges his Calico sister and also picks up his brother by the puma cub’s scruff. They bound out of the room. At the same time, Natasha pounces forward and smacks Steve on the back fo the head.

“Let her go,” she nods towards Kamala. “You’re making a scene and there’s nothing to gain from establishing yourself over her. You’re not her alpha, you are not even a part of her pack.” Steve only adjusts himself into a more aggressive position.

“Steve. Let. Her. Go.” Bucky demands.

Steve glares a little bit longer, and finally tears his gaze away. “Fine.”

Kamala straightens back from where she had leaned forward in preparation for a fight. She nods once at Bucky, gives Nat a questioning look, and spins on her heel as she shifts. The snow leopard takes off down the hall, presumably to go check on her pack mates.

Bucky gives Steve a dirty look and stalks off down a separate hallway. Sighing, Steve turns around to face Wanda, who is still seated at the table and had been watching the the whole thing with mild glee. 

“Don’t worry,” she says. “They’ll come to respect you after you get your omega back and put him where he belongs.”

Steve smiles at her gratefully. At least someone was acknowledging how stubborn his mate was being. Tony is falling apart without them, his ‘pack’ not even granting any others the most basic respect. When he takes over as Tony’s alpha, he’ll have to make sure they establish ground rules early. This will not happen with him in charge. Speaking of...

He looks to Natasha. “Why did you stop me? You’re a beta, most alpha-omega relations don’t concern you.”

Natasha freezes, the knife hovering over the tomato she had begun slicing almost threateningly. After a short pause, she continues, albeit a little slower than before. “Because like I said, there was nothing to gain from dominating over a teenager. Especially another alpha’s kid. We can’t afford to make enemies and, in case you didn’t notice, Bucky likes these pups. Do you really want to take away his first friends that he’s made himself since Hydra?”

Steve wilts a bit with guilt. “I guess you’re right.”

Natasha smirks at him. “Aren’t I always?” She taps him on the shoulder with the flat of the blade. “Besides, considering how much they smelled like Tony, they’ll be your younglings too by mate relations.”

“But they smell like another alpha,” Steve most definitely does not whine.

Nat’s grin only widens. “What does that matter? Pups always follow their omega.”

He feels a jolt of excitement at that. Even though they were extremely rude, Steve wouldn’t mind having pups. He wouldn’t take in Clint’s of course, they were Clint’s. But the other three seemed like his dream fit. Two boys and a girl, one alpha, one beta, one omega.

The perfect family. 

******

Steve’s not quite sure what the kids do after that day or what they told the others in their pack, but all of the adults become extremely distant with him. The only one who is at all decent in their treatment is Danvers ironically, but he thinks its more because she is team leader out on the field and they can’t afford any distractions in a fight.

 He has also still not met the new pack alpha. When he approached Danvers about it the first and only time, she simply stared at him confused for several minutes. Then a small but troubled realization happened upon her and she asked, “Do you mean Strange?”

“Well, I guess you could say that, yeah, it is strange,” Steve agrees hesitantly.

“No, the person, Dr. Strange. He’s the only other alpha you wouldn’t really know besides Kam, but he’s not around much.” She shoots him a weird look, but is distracted by her watch beeping. “Gotta go.” She runs off before Steve can ask her what’s wrong. 

Her confusion bothers him for days afterwards however. It was a simple answer, why would she not know what he was talking about? Steve gets his response early one evening.

He and Clint, Sam, and Natasha are sitting in the common room watching a movie when voices drift in from the hallway.

“I’m telling you it’s not magic.” Steve knows that voice intimately, and it’s music to his ears.

“Yes, I’m sure science can explain this,” a deep baritone responds. There’s a silence where presumably something is shown.

“Photons reacting to certain energy levels,” Tony sing-songs.

The person with him chuckles. “And how, pray tell, did those energy levels get there?”

“I haven’t figured that part out yet,” Tony admits. “I’m working on it, and believe me, I will find out.”

“Of course you will.” 

“Don’t patronize me,” Tony complains as they stride into view. “I’m feeling distinctly patronized.”

“That’s wonderful dear,” the man with him drawls and pats him on the head. As Tony pouts, Steve takes a minute to study the both of them. 

The stranger is tall, dressed weirdly in blue robes, tan leather-hide gloves, and a bright red cape. He has a goatee similar to Tony’s and sharp cheekbones. His mannerisms as he and Tony banter back and forth are very reminiscent of a beta, but he definitely holds himself like an alpha. Even though he doesn’t change out of his carefree and unconcerned posture, his sharp eyes scan the room quickly. Steve figures he must be the ‘Strange’ Carol told him about.

Tony, on the other hand, seems like a bundle of nerves. He looks healthy, despite the arc reactor once again in his chest, and his face seems younger, if that’s at all possible. His mannerisms are off as well, not following his usual timid omega or boisterous alpha either. He’s acting like a pack leader, if that makes any sense, which to Steve, it doesn’t.

“I’m hungry,” Tony whines as he completely passes by the living area and slinks into the kitchen. “Make me something to eat.” Steve’s alpha instincts rear at the demand, snarling to put the omega in his place. Strange just smirks.

“What do you want?”

“Omelets.” 

“Do we have the stuff for omelets?” 

Tony opens the fridge and begins digging around. He gasps. “No.”

Strange seems to be used to this type of behavior because he leans against the counter. “Is that a no, there’s something good in the refrigerator and I want to eat it, or no, there’s not the right ingredients for omelets?”

“Both,” Tony answers. “We don’t have eggs, but there’s cake.”

“What is it you want me to do with that information?”

“Can we have cake for dinner?”

“No.”

“Please?”

“No.” 

“Pretty please with a maraschino cherry on top?” Tony begs.

“No.”

“Stephaniiiee,” Tony draws out annoyingly.

“Tonyyy,” Strange does in much the same way. “I’m a doctor. I am not letting you have cake for dinner after you haven’t eaten anything all day.”

“Yeah, yeah, nutrition first, but caaake.”

“How about this. I’ll make you chicken and veggies, and then you can have cake. Deal?”

The fox shifter licks his lips. “Deal.”

Strange frowns as he looks through the cabinets. “I’ll be right back.” Steve startles as he begins walking off, but his cape stays behind. It floats in midair for a second before wrapping itself around Tony. Tony doesn’t seem surprised; he curls into the fabric, a content look on his face as his nostrils flare gently. Steve guesses this is as good a chance as any and approaches the omega. 

“Hey Tony, been a while,” he tries.

Tony’s eyes snap open. “Rogers. What do you need?”

“You know you can call me Steve, Tony,” he chides. “I wanted to talk to you.”

“And what if I don’t want to talk to you?” He challenges. 

“Don’t be like this,” Steve implores.

“Like what? I am waiting for my mate to come back so we can enjoy a nice dinner and some cake. I am not inclined to converse with you, nor am I forcing you to talk with me. That’s a right that both of us share, or have you forgotten. We both can, or should,” he gives Steve a meaningful glance in regards to his position, “be able to leave this conversation at any point in time. Especially if one or the other is uncomfortable.” He slowly begins edging towards the door to the hallway. 

“Tony stop,” Steve snaps, a little bit of alpha sneaking into his voice. He’s shocked when the tone seems to have no effect on the omega. He tries again, allowing a growl to leak into the words. “Stop.”

Sighing, Tony does. “What is it, Rogers? What is so damn important?”

“You have another mate?” He prompted.

“Yes, I have a mate, after my last one tried to kill me. Thank you for bringing up bad memories that I would rather forget.” He squints at Steve. “Why am I even telling you this? My personal life is not your business.”

“It is,” Steve maintains. “Because you are my mate.” He steps forward with a snarl, trying to get Tony to remember who his true alpha is. Once again, he is thrown for a loop when the alpha pheromones he is secreting and his commanding tone have no impact with the omega, who just gives him an incredulous look.

“What is going on here?”

“Steve was just leaving,” Tony says, giving them both a large smile. 

Strange’s nostrils flare, but he only switches his gaze between them lazily. “Right. And I assume that’s why he’s trying to dominate over my mate?”

“Stephen,” Tony sighs. “It’s fine, I have it all under control.”

“Does he know that?” Strange contends, placing the food in his hands on the counter. 

“I’m not sure what exactly you are implying,” Steve provokes.  Who does this man think he is?

I’m implying that you don’t know how leave what’s mine alone.”

“Guys,” Tony tries to placate. “Let’s just calm down-“

Yours?” Steve snorts. “He is my omega, I claimed him years ago, and he best remember it.”

“Steve, maybe you shouldn’t-“

“And then you tried to kill him, yes, that’s exactly how every alpha should treat their mate,” Strange retorts.

“You want to do this?” Steve demands, shifting into his full lion form at the same time Strange and Tony do. 

He and the other alpha start circling each other, teeth bared and muzzles dripping. Around and around they go, occasionally snapping at each other, but otherwise waiting for the other to make the first move.

Tony slips into the middle of their ring and lets out the largest growl Steve has ever heard. He instinctively drops to the ground on his belly, chin resting in between his paws. His ears involuntarily lay back, tail twitching back and forth. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Strange doing the same.

“The hell?” Clint wonders aloud, and Steve realizes that his team was probably watching the entire confrontation. At least he has some back up against what ever technology Tony has created to cause the two alphas to do this.

The fox stalks over to him, and Steve can’t bring himself to do anything but submit. He’s fighting, trying to force himself to stand up and knock the omega onto his back but he can’t. It’s quite frankly humiliating, being such a large lion on his stomach for a fox, but he can’t figure out how to get around it.

“Not a fun feeling, is it,” Tony leers. “Did this for you all the time, but never got a thank you.” Steve sees Strange lift his head, flipping his fur back smugly. Tony turns to him and orders, “Don’t even think about it. I’m not done with you yet.” Strange immediately drops his head back down the the floor. 

“The fuck you do, Steve?” Clint asks. Or maybe he’s doing this solo, if Clint’s tone is anything to go by.

“See, Steve, this is what you made my son feel,” Tony remarks absently. It’s as if they were colleague speaking about the weather, the way his voice drifts. “You, an alpha from a pack that’s not even his, assaulted him in his own home where he is supposed to be safe. You confronted him for talking to his friend. Then you try to establish yourself as a higher alpha than my daughter.” The fox sits down and scratches his ear with his back paw. “Once again, on her territory, with pups under her protection. As you can imagine, I wasn’t very happy with you to begin with.”

“Steve, what is he talking about?” Sam worries.

“Forget Steve for a second, what the dick kinda animal are you?” Clint demands, turning to Strange. Steve hadn’t actually been paying attention to any factors other than general height and weight when they were circling each other, but now he gets the chance to really look. 

Strange, upon first glance, looks like big fox, but his fur is black with silver oriental patterns swirling through it. He’s larger than Tony, almost passing as a maned wolf in the length of his legs and snout. The thing that really throws Steve for a loop, however, is the tail, or rather, tails. Nine thick and fluffy back tails extend from where there should only be one, winding all around each other and silver tips creating somewhat of an optical illusion.

Strange looks to Tony, as if asking for permission. Tony rolls his eyes. 

“Behave,” he warns, and Strange stands up cautiously. He gives Steve and Tony a wide berth, backing up a little bit and sitting down, tails curling around him majestically. 

“I’m a kitsune,” he drawls smoothly, voice bland in the ways supposedly only betas can manage, as if he hadn’t just been about to attack Steve. “Or a nine-tailed fox, if we’re being Neanderthals.”

“I’ve never heard of a kitsune before,” Natasha prompts. 

“That’s because you don’t know everything,” Strange deadpans.

“Stephen,” Tony warns. The other man deflates a little, which Steve can’t but help have a feeling of satisfaction at. Tony balks, and bares his teeth at Steve, apparently having smelled his unintentionally released scent of triumph.

“Here’s what is going to happen,” Tony says lowly. “On the count of three, we all all going to shift. I realize you guys are really high-strung right now, so I will allow it to be only a partial shift. Okay?” Steve hates this new superiority complex Tony’s somehow employing, but he doesn’t really have any other choice so he relents. “Good. Ready? One, Two, Three. Thank you.” Tony’s ears twitch towards Steve’s team.

“Pack leader?” Sam breaks the silence. For some reason Tony nods. “I might not like you all that much, but nice job man.”

“What’s going on here?” Steve asks, confused. “What are you talking about, pack leader?”

“In case you didn’t notice,” Tony denotes. “Which I’m honestly ninety percent sure you didn’t if your letter was anything to go by, you took almost the entire pack with you when we split up. You got all the kids in the divorce, and all I was left with was a paralyzed best friend and an android that left to do some soul-searching a few days later. So I made a new pack. Over two dozen adults and half a dozen pups are now mine. I even somehow managed a mate, God knows how.” Tony looks over at Strange, who shrugs.

“God has abandoned this household,” he guesses.

Tony nods. “Sure.”

“But,” Steve protests. “Omegas can’t be pack leaders. Only alphas can.”

There’s a sharp intake of breath from behind him, but he ignores it in favor of watching Tony cock his head to the side.

“Mint Blizzard,” he addresses Bucky, ignoring Steve’s noise of outrage at the nickname. “Did you not have omegas in the 40s?”

Buck snorts. “Naw, we did. I don’t know why... oh.”

Tony snaps his fingers. “Oh what? Mr. Freeze, you gotta help me out here, I’m pack leader, not a telepath.”

“Steve didn’t actually get out all that much,” Bucky says, looking over him with a contemplating eye. “We lived in a shoddy neighborhood, not really all that great or safe, so most of the omegas around us were house or trophy wives.”

“And?” Tony implores, rolling his hand in a ‘go on’ motion. “Finish up, Snowflake, we ain’t got all day.”

“So all the pack leaders were alphas,” he clarifies. “There weren’t any independent omegas near us, and because we didn’t know how bad the war would be, none of them were drafted either. Our mamas were both betas.”

Holding up a hand, Tony furrows his eyebrows together. “Your telling me that Steve was hardly around omegas, and the ones he was around were basically glorified servants who were probably abused, so he grew up thinking we were all weak and helpless? And then, for some reason that I don’t think even Thor’s peeper-seeker could know, he doesn’t change his way of thinking, even after meeting me in the twenty first century? Did Shield not debrief you on anything?”

“If I may,” Natasha intervenes. “Don’t blame this on Shield. We didn’t know how different relationships were back then, so we gave him a full briefing on Alpha-Beta-Omega rights and laws in this day and age. It’s not our fault he didn’t read them.”

“I did read them,” Steve argues. “I just...”

“Chose not to pay them any heed,” Strange finishes for him, and Steve sneers at him.

“No, it’s pack dynamics,” he replies stubbornly. “They don’t change, nor should they.”

“They should if they operate any way that you think they do,” Strange returns. “You’re delusional. The New Avengers are a pack, united under our leader Tony Stark. We’re role models all over the world because of how healthy our relationship is. Your old-fashioned thinking isn’t doing you any favors here, Rogers.”

“Like hell,” he bites. “Omegas are not anything without alphas, let alone fit enough to be leaders. They aren’t meant to be strong and commanding for a pack, they’re meant to be strong and commanding for pups. They’re practically useless except for breeding and a good fuck!”

There’s a stunned and angry silence that follows his words.

“Steve, you can’t actually believe that,” Natasha practically begs. Steve keeps his mouth shut, lest he say something he might regret.

“Let’s find out, shall we?” Strange asks, rubbing his hands together. He does some sort of complicated gesture and golden sparks begin to surround his hands. Suddenly he appears behind Steve, ripping out a piece of hair. Before Steve can retaliate, the weird red cape thing wraps around him like a straight jacket. A glowing mandala is pushed towards him, and a buzzing feeling runs over his skin.

“Let’s start off simple,” Strange suggests. “What is your name?”

“Steven Grant Rogers,” he answers immediately. His eyes widen in surprise.

“Where did you grow up?” Strange lilts with a bored scuff of his shoe. 

With immense difficulty, Steve holds back the words for a few moments. They slip out, though. “Brooklyn. What did you do to me?” He demands.

“Easy truth spell.” The kitsune doesn’t even have the mind about him to seem remotely bothered about using magic on an unwilling subject. Steve tells him so. “Maybe you should have thought of that before letting the witch join the team, especially with her known hatred of Tony.”

Something about his tone puts Steve on edge. “Where is she? What did you do to her?”

“Nothing of consequence,” Strange answers cryptically. “At least, for you. Now, enough with the back and forth. Did you mean what you said about omegas?”

“Yes,” Steve hisses, struggling against his bonds. “They’re worthless creatures that should remain at the house and take order from their alphas.”

A horrified Tony raises his hand over his mouth, eyes shining suspiciously. He meets Strange’s glance and nods his head. 

“What would you have done with Tony if he remained with you?” Strange probes. Steve is somehow able to resist replying. “Answer me!”

“I would have bonded with him, made him completely mine.” He spills. “Then I would have mated him and forced him to give up being Iron Man. Omegas are a liability out on the field. He would remain here at the base to take care of the pups. He’s not CEO of Stark Industries anymore, thank god, so there’s no reason for him to leave the house. He would cook and clean and be here for me when I’m in rut or if I feel like helping him through a heat. Not that he’ll have very many of those with all my kids he’ll be pregnant with. As long as he would be useful, he would be fine.”

“And when he’s no longer ‘useful’?” Strange presses. 

“Then we get a divorce,” Steve shrugs. “He can go live out on the street for all I care, because I would have made sure we didn’t sign a prenuptial agreement. He doesn’t pull his weight, he doesn’t live here. Simple.”

“And the pups?” Tony murmurs, hurt and anguish tinging his words.

 “Either they do their own work, or they can go live on the street with you. I couldn’t care less about what happens to them, I really only want them for show.” Steve is breathing hard, sweat dripping down his forehead with the force of his exertion. His eyes meet Natasha’s, the green swimming with fury and other suppressed feelings he doesn’t really want to find out about. Clint is no better, hatred and vitriol visible on his face, for once not directed at Tony. 

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Sam says, rushing off down a hallway to the bathroom.

Strange straightens up, like his job is done. “I trust you’ll take it from here?” 

Natasha nods solemnly. “We’ve got it. I’m sure Friday has some lovely video footage that no court would dare dispute. And if he gets banged up a little on the way?” She looks at him, expression eerily blank. “No one will care for the difference.” 

Clint turns to Strange. “We have a lot of groveling to do when we get back. You’ll take good care of him?”

“I’ll do my best,” Strange promises as Steve is yanked to his feet, tail twitching irritably.. “Good luck, Widow, Hawkeye.”

“You too,” they chorus, and Steve’s world goes black.

**********

Stephen leads a catatonic Tony to the common room the moment the two ex-Shield agents are out of sight. He puts him on the couch, crouching on the ground and grasping his wrists in a fragile grip. Tony draws in on himself, tail curling between his legs and ears back flat on his head, unseeing eyes shedding tears down his face. 

“Love, look at me please,” the sorcerer gently pleads. “He’s gone now. He can’t hurt you anymore.”

“I’m so glad I have you,” Tony whispers, slowly, almost infinitesimally slowly, coming back to himself.

“I’m glad to have you too,” Stephen says, his own eyes watering as Tony’s draw back to the present. “Love, it’s alright. He’s never coming back. I promise.”

“You can’t guarantee that,” Tony smiles sadly. 

Stephen leans his forehead against Tony’s, retuning the smile. “I swear to you, that as long as I live, I will not allow Steve Rogers near you or our pups ever again.”

“Our pups.” Tony jerks a little. “Where are they? Are they okay? W-“

“We’re fine,” Kamala assures, leading her siblings into the room. “Friday wouldn’t let anyone near us.” The rusty-spotted cat on her shoulder leaps down and bounds across the room, launching himself at the couch and settling down on Tony’s lap. He shifts back to his human form.

“It’s all good,” Tony whispers to Peter, hugging him tightly. 

“Yes, dad, it’s all worked out,” Peter agrees, and if they’re both trembling slightly, neither one mentions it. Still, the omegas find comfort in each other’s scents, drawn muscles relaxing.

“What about the pack?” Tony asks, allowing Peter to roll off him and into the space between his side and the couch.

“They’re building a case against Rogers as we speak,” Stephen explains, getting off the floor and sitting himself next to his omega. “Carol, Hope, and Jones are handling the lawyers and Rhodes is taking care of the council.”

“...so you’re telling me Hope is slowly going insane while the canine sisters make as many Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood references in as short an amount of time as they can?” 

“Pretty much.” 

Tony smiles, and let’s Stephen pull him into his lap, grabbing the once-again-animal Peter and holding him close to his chest. Kamala carries Nathaniel over and they take their place on the couple’s right, while Cooper, Lila, and Harley curl up together on their left. Stephen spreads his tails out so they create something like a nest around the family.

Stephen looks up and then back to Tony, who rubs his nose against his own. “My alpha.”

Stephen chuckles. “Your alpha,” he agrees. 

A time later, it could be minutes or hours as far as Stephen is concerned, the other pack members begin filtering in, grim determination melting out of their stances as they find solace in the room with their omega. Stephen pays them no heed though, nuzzling Tony right behind the ear. Someone at some point turns on the television to some mindless soap opera.

Tony runs his hands over Peter’s fur, garnering a purring from the boy. Stephen, uncaring of the audience, bites down gently on Tony’s scent glands, teeth lining up perfectly with the bond mate mark already there. Tony keens and let’s out a small whine, going boneless in his hold. The resulting scent of happy omega is so strong, even the betas take heed, their heads snapping to watch the couple.

“We get it, you’re in love,” Harley grumbles. “No need to rub it in our faces.”

Peter rumbles his pleasure, curling further into Tony’s embrace. “No, s’nice. Smells good.”

Turning around ever so slightly, Tony lays his head on Stephen’s shoulder. Stephen, in retaliation put’s his chin on top of the brown curls. He opens his mouth to ask what they’re going to do about Maximoff, but Tony beats him to it. “Shh, no talk. It’s nap time.”

Stephen accepts the statement menially. He let’s his eyes drift shut. Maximoff is fine, she’s safe in the pocket dimension and if Loki couldn’t escape after thirty minutes, she has no hope. That conversation can wait for another day.